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How COVID could be the Cure to Senior Livings Marketing Problem

I am shocked at how little positive marketing senior living homes get.  You hear all about the less than 1% that fail at serving those that are the most vulnerable populations.  Rarely do hear about all the incredible work that senior living staff members do for their residents, especially in a crisis or when someone is dying.

Personally, I have worked in the industry for over 25 years, both for a national senior living provider and over the last 21 years as a designer that works with thousands of homes (facilities) across North America.

What I can tell you is this, to work in a senior living home is mission work. It is not for the faint of heart.  Think of how unpleasant it is to change a child’s diaper, try to get them to eat or take medicine and then make them 150 pounds heavier and able to call you by every name in the book.  This was my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s and lived with my family and me for over 4 years.  At the end she was quite combative, we loved her dearly, but in the end, I did not always like her. My mother was the angel that took care of her daily.  Of course, not everyone in senior living has memory issues but the vast majority do.  This creates so much complexity to caring for that person and being able to reason with them and develop trust.  With a child, you can just force them to take their medicine or go to bed.  With my grandmother, we had to employ a technique called “positive manipulation” basically lie to her at times, because if we didn’t it could kill her.  It’s difficult to work.

Frankly, I am so tired of seeing my clients, aka the senior living providers, beat up!  They are AWESOME!!!

I have several clients and they are all doing amazing things but for the purposes of brevity, I am only going to mention a few.

I have been asked recently what is Senior Living doing to keep residents healthy mentally and physically during this COVID Crisis?

Kemper House of Central Ohio organized an Easter family visit, with all of the residents in the purpose-built memory care of Kemper House of Worthington.   Caregivers brought residents to a large windowed hallway and calls were made as families visited with their loved ones.  This was not a sad event but a celebration.   Being able to see a new grandbaby does the heart good.  They have also held Worship & Music Services – of course, everyone is wearing a mask and washing their hands, but they are able to sing and enjoy each other’s company.

Eversound is a company that was founded when a young man would visit his grandmother in a senior living home and he saw there needed to be a solution to help engage caregivers, families, and residents better.  Eversound is basically headphones that a group can use.  If you have ever been on a museum tour and the guide was microphoned and the rest of the group had on headsets to hear the guide you get the idea.  Typically, they use them in group settings but with some homes requiring residents to eat in their rooms, they are doing singalongs with the caregivers roaming the halls and singing to every resident in their room. Check out this incredible video to join in on the fun.  Smiles were on everyone!

Typically, most homes are not allowed to have any visitors unless someone is dying.  All staff members have their temperature taken upon entry and anyone with symptoms has to stay at home for 12 days or until they test negative for COVID.

Some of the homes we work with have indoor hydroponic vegetables for a true farm to table experience that is 100% organic, fitness rooms with equipment that builds muscle, bone and improves memory and balance and Beauty Salons and Spas.

Vista Springs owner Lou Andriotti, started sending me superhero images.  You may be thinking, how exactly is this going to help?

Being a Hero is all about attitude! Being positive and instilling confidence.  Knowing that you will do anything and everything to protect those who need protecting.  This is the perfect picture of all of the caregivers in senior living.  They are on the front lines, just as those in our hospitals and clinics.

Per Andriotti “Vista Springs Heroes of Healthcare undertake life-enhancing and life-saving procedures everyday, but during this COVID-19 crisis where they are risking their lives as appointed essential critical workers by the government, they are now highly honored.”

As I have stated previously, this is nothing new for a senior living caregiver.  What is new?  That we all now know what it is to feel like a senior alone in our home, not able to venture out or interact with others.  In our senior living homes, they still have community, which keeps their spirits up.  I supposed after this all blows over, many families will visit way more often with their loved ones.  Even if it’s virtually.

Lou and the Vista team have set up a workshop making N95 equivalent masks for their team, resident’s families and even their competitors!    Per Andriotti “It wasn’t just families worrying about their loved ones in our communities, it was our community members worrying about their families and they were out in the world. Our seniors felt safe with us at Vista Springs and we assured them that we would do things to help their family be safe also, as much as we could do given our first priority is our valued employees and the community members we serve.”

Sarah Holt with not only creates a smart home within senior living facilities by connecting Alexa and other devices but also has a platform for family’s to connect with loved ones and even play games virtually.

Games are a great way to stay connected even when we can’t be there to hold someone’s hand.  In my family it could stop the “roving eyes” when we are playing cards and make the game a little more fair, lol.  A fantastic recent example of how to play games and connect virtually involved Matthew McConaughey and his family.  Since the start of the quarantine, residents at The Enclave at Round Rock Senior Living home in Texas have replaced their traditional bingo nights with virtual bingo nights. Matthew and his family surprised the residents and it looks like everyone had a great time.

Finally, one of the most vital roles a home can do besides providing great care for a resident during this crisis is to communicate with the family.  There’s no one that I know of that does that better than Dr. Larry Pino.  Dr. Pino is not only the owner of Tuscan Gardens Senior Living, which he created out of love for his mother, but he is also an author and delivers constant communication to the families via email, Facebook and his YouTube channel.  Tuscan gardens not only looks beautiful but has a full pizza oven and bar, and friendly visits from the local lamas… you heard me right lamas.

This current crisis has not made senior living better, this is what they ALWAYS have done.  They have always been there, coming up with creative ways to deliver healthcare, well care and soul care.

Senior living providers and their caregivers take care of our loved ones when we can’t anymore.  They are patient and kind, they love them as family, treat them with respect and dignity and keep them healthy.  Please send your love not only to your loved one in senior living but to the unsung heroes that are keeping these resident’s bodies safe and their hearts happy.

Please share this to let them know they are loved and appreciated.  I for one know how hard it is to care for a senior, even one that you call grandma.




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Lisa Cini

Lisa M. Cini is the Founder, President and CEO of Mosaic Design Studio. A global commercial design, project management and procurement company, Mosaic’s mission is to "Improve Quality of Life By Design." Lisa is regarded as the leading Alzheimer's and long-term care design expert in the nation, and has been recognized for her contributions in the field. Lisa is most gratified by helping people who are struggling with Alzheimer’s, find ways to cope as individuals, as families, and as communities.

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